Category Archives: Daily Life

International Living Article #4

Click anywhere on the image or text below to read my most recent International Living article.

I Couldn't Even ask for a Cerveza

Just Another Day in Nicaragua: Playa Hermosa & Pasta

It’s Wednesday. Hump Day. For me, here in Nicaragua – it’s beach day.  

With a cold Tona in hand I make my way across the hard packed sand towards the ocean. The sky is brilliant blue in color and scattered with a few big white fluffy clouds. On the horizon I can see the Costa Rican coast line.

Just Another Day in Nicaragua: Playa Hermosa & Pasta

– North end of Hermosa Beach

My husband, Gordon and our Miniature Schnauzer Maggie are already engaged in a game of fetch. Maggie jumps over the crashing waves in search of her bright orange ball. 

To my right four local guys are enjoying a game of their version of Nicaraguan street baseball. Back in the palapa our friend Paul watches over our stuff while waxing his surf board.

I wade into the warm Pacific waters that are just barely cool enough to be refreshing. I inhale the clean salt air. The heat of the afternoon sun on my skin feels good.

“Ahhh,  it’s been too long since we’ve been to the beach, ” I say to Gordon.  “And way too long since we’ve been to Playa Hermosa.” 

After a quick rinse in the fresh water shower I make my way to a lounger to get comfortable with my book and work on my tan. Our friend Clint’s timing couldn’t have been better as he makes his way back from the beach bar with a round of cold refreshing Tonas.

As the sun starts to go down in a blazing orange ball we decide it’s time to pack up and take our short ride home.  A shower, a change of clothes and dinner on San Juan bay seemed like a great way to end an already perfect day.

Just Another Day in Nicaragua: Playa Hermosa & Pasta

This Wednesday couldn’t have been more different than a Wednesday in my former life in Canada. Gone are the days of sitting at a desk in front of a computer for eight hours. Flips flops instead of heels? Much better!

As we finished our pasta dinners at an authentic Italian restaurant on the beach I felt a sense of calm. I was relaxed and satisfied. Tired, but not stressed.

I didn’t have to rush home to iron clothes for work the next day. I didn’t have to think about not wanting to wake up to the alarm clock in the morning. 

I get to spend the next day and the next day and the next day…doing whatever I want to do…and for that…I’m grateful.

Six Tips to Finding Affordable Long Term Rentals in Nicaragua

With more and more people relocating to Nicaragua finding a desirable and affordable rental isn’t always easy. But if you’re persistent, avoid getting discouraged and follow these tips you might just find your perfect rental today!

#1

POUNDING THE PAVEMENT:
Since most locals rent their homes by placing a small “SE ALQUILA” sign on the front of the house get out there every single day and walk the neighborhoods that you’re interested in living in.  Properties commonly rent on a month to month basis – so beware – a home that was occupied yesterday may be available today and then gone tomorrow.  Remember – you aren’t the only one pounding the pavement – the best deals come and go in the blink of an eye.

#2

WORD OF MOUTH:
Tell everyone you know that you’re looking for rental. Talk to expats and business owners in the area. Post messages in forums and Facebook groups such as Expats in NicaraguaExpats in San Juan del Sur. When we were looking for a long term rental in San Juan del Sur we talked to so many people there were times when random waiters at restaurants would approach us as we were walking by to tell us they had a friend or family member who had a place for rent.

#3

CLASSIFIED ADS:
Typically classified ads for long term rentals are posted by foreigners or computer savvy Nicas who expect a higher price for their properties because they know how to market. There are some good deals to be found through classified ads, but the very best opportunities are almost always found through word of mouth or pounding the pavement. Listed below are  a couple classified sites that are worth checking out.

Craigslist
Encuentra24
Nicaragua Community Classifieds

#4

REAL ESTATE AGENCIES:
Although most real estate agents and property managers deal almost exclusively with highly priced, short term vacation rentals occasionally they do have a gem in their back pocket. On occasion they may have a few sale listings where the seller wants to rent out their home while they wait for a buyer.  Visiting local real estate agencies is definitely worthwhile, but consider this option a long shot to finding your rental.

#5

BULLETIN BOARDS:
Posting boards are commonly found in bars, restaurants, corner stores, laundry mats, hostels, etc. and are also a good place to find rentals.  It’s not uncommon for the business owner to have a home for rent, so don’t forget to enquire with the proprietor and his/her staff.

#6

NEGOTIATE A SHORT TERM RENTAL INTO SOMETHING LONG TERM
If you find yourself searching for a rental during slow season and you’re willing to sign a long term lease you may just be lucky enough to negotiate a fair price on a short term rental turning into an affordable long term option. It never hurts to ask.

Mad Hatter Tattoo in Nicaragua

A journey that started more than a year ago has finally come to and end.

When I first talked to my friend and tattoo artist Salomon about getting this tattoo he gave me some grim news. The tattoo would essentially need to be done twice.  Since the design was incredibly detailed and contained so many colors Salomon would need to complete the entire piece in black and grey and then add the color on top once it was healed.

Thirteen months, six sittings and something like sixteen hours of “fun” we finally have a finished product.

To learn more about my journey and why I decided to get this little work of art read Friends – like tattoos – can last a lifetime

To view larger sized images click on any one of the photos below.

Salomon calls Lucerne, Switzerland home but thankfully for me he comes to Nicaragua three months per year to surf.

In Lucerne Salomon is booked solid with appointments and works long days. His trips to Nicaragua are his way of getting some rest and relaxation. He surfs as often as he can and only takes enough tattoo appointments to cover his travel expenses.

His specialty is Japanese art but he will take on interesting and challenging pieces like my latest design. So if you are coming to Nicaragua and want a tattoo from a serious artist at a fraction of what he charges in Switzerland contact him HERE.

Another Publication with International Living

We recently had another article published with International Living and are excited to share it with you!  Click anywhere on the image or text below to see what it’s all about.

Another Publication with International Living

You can learn more about Nicaragua and other countries in International Living’s daily postcard e-letter. Sign up for free daily postcards and they’ll send you a FREE REPORT- Start a New Life on the Beach in Nicaragua.

7 More Reasons We Love Living in Nicaragua

7 More Reasons We Love Living in Nicaragua#1
For $4.10 USD we can get for 1 watermelon, 1 pineapple, 6 green mangos, 1 very large carrot, 1 cantaloupe, 1 avocado and 1/2 dozen bananas!

#2
After enjoying a cold Tona at sunset at one of our favorite beach bars we went to pay the bill. They couldn’t provide change for 100 cordobas so they said we could pay next time. Funny thing is C$100 is equal to $4.12 USD.

#3
In April our Nica neighbor who has been in the same house for all 39 years of her life – and is now finally able to build a kitchen and indoor bathroom in her home – gifted us with a six pack of Guatemalan beer during Semana Santa! So, so sweet and kind of her!

#4
We have time to cook!

#5
We can take our dog everywhere, including our favorite bars and restaurants.

#6
Lola, our favorite vendor at the fruits and vegetable market gifted us with a big juicy mango one day – just because!  We weren’t even making a purchase.

#7
The kind policeman that pulled Elisha over for not wearing her seatbelt (only to find out that her license had expired) allowed her to pay the C$600 ($24.79 USD) fine onsite for only C$200 ($8.26 USD).

International Living Daily Postcards

Each day International Living uncovers some of the most desirable–and cheapest–retirement havens on earth, including Nicaragua. In International Living’s free daily postcards, you can learn about retirement, property, travel and lifestyle opportunities from around the world. 

An article of mine was recently published as an International Living postcard and I’m pleased to able to share it with you!

Life in This Beach Town Keeps Getting Better…
By Elisha MacKay

With our toes in the sand and mojitos in hand, my husband Gordon and I clink our glasses to another spectacular San Juan del Sur sunset. The sky is a brilliant hue of orange, yellow and red. Our four-month-old miniature schnauzer puppy lies at our feet, spent from her romp on the beach. Sixteen months have passed since we left our home, our jobs and friends and family in Alberta to start a new life in Nicaragua.

Our Nicaraguan adventure began in Poneloya where we rented a lovely little house on the beach. From there we moved to a guest house in Leon. Three months later we were living large in a luxury apartment in Granada. Opportunity knocked and we found ourselves living with three dogs, two cats and a goat in a beautiful six-bedroom lodge in Laguna de Apoyo.

And finally here we are in San Juan del Sur.

Not long after establishing roots in San Juan we knew we had found the place where we wanted to settle down.

San Juan can be touristy at times, but maintains a great mix of locals and expats. Within a month of living in San Juan we had formed a large network of friends. And it’s easy to get by here with little Spanish.

A budget of $1,400 per month allows us to live very well.

Affordable rental homes are fairly easy to find—$500 covers our rent for a very nice three-bedroom, two-bathroom home; cable TV and Internet are included. Electricity is extra, with monthly bills averaging around $50.

Our monthly grocery bill averages between $250 and $350. We eat very well. In addition to the fruit and vegetables that are delivered to our neighborhood daily via a farmer’s truck, we enjoy fresh fish from local fisherman and grass-fed filet mignon.

We have a vehicle, but could certainly get by without one. Living in town allows us to walk almost everywhere we need (and want) to go. We spend an average of $60 per month on fuel.

Neither one of us surfs, but San Juan has plenty to keep us entertained.

Tuesday evenings are reserved for Trivia Night at our favorite expat bar, Republika.

The Saturday morning Farmer’s Market at Big Wave Dave’s is a great place to catch up with friends. It’s here where we pick up delicious baked bread, smoked ham, cinnamon buns and other tasty treats that we have difficulty finding elsewhere.

If we’re in the mood on Sunday evenings we can catch a flick under the stars at the newest, coolest place in town—Howler Bar. It’s also become our favorite place to go for live music.

When we want to cool off we visit one of many nearby beaches. Sometimes we head south to Playa Hermosa.

Playa Hermosa

Other times we go north to Playa Maderas. Both are within 20 minutes from our home and have beach bars that serve some of the tastiest fish tacos around.

The “Palm Island Pool” and swim-up bar (literally a bar you swim up to) at the Surf Ranch resort is our preferred place to catch some rays while sipping cheap, frosty Tonas (the local beer).

Gordon and I have really grown to love the laid-back coastal lifestyle San Juan del Sur offers. And as each sunshiny day passes, life in Nicaragua just keeps getting better and better.

Other International Living Postcards that may interest you: 

Classified Ads in Nicaragua

Classified Ads in Nicaragua

When it comes to online classified ads and websites you’ve probably heard of (and even used) Kijiji and craigslist.  

But where does one go to browse classified ads for Nicaragua?  The answer is encuentra24.com.

Whether you’re looking to buy a vehicle, rent a home or searching for a job in Nicaragua encuentra24 is a definitely worth checking out.

Here you can browse online ads for real estate, vacation rentals,  job postings, pets, and more.

Have something you want to sell in Nicaragua?  No problem. Publishing an ad is quick and easy and best of all,  just like Kijiji and craigslist, it’s free!

Note: Although not as popular, craigslist is also used in Nicaragua.

Teaching Opportunity in San Juan del Sur

San Juan del Sur Day School

San Juan del Sur Day School is looking for a highly trained, experienced primary school teacher from the United States or Canada to work part time in a multi-age class of 18 students ranging in age from 4-8 years old.

Candidate will also have the opportunity to study Spanish, practice yoga, and surf.

You can learn more about the school by visiting the Facebook page at San Juan del Sur Day School.

If you are interested in living and teaching abroad for a year please email your resume to us and we will pass it along to the right person.

Real Estate Opportunity: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

A large pool and an Irish pub within stumbling distance of home? A beautiful beach just five minutes away? 

Sounds about right to me. 

Off we went to take a look.

Elisha and I wanted to get a realistic idea of the time it would take to get to Congo Hills from our rental house in San Juan del Sur, so when we pulled out of our barrio I set the timer on my watch. Even though we got stuck behind a bus – that stopped every 100 meters – we still managed to arrive at Congo Hills in just 10 minutes.

Our tour started with a walk around the property.  We immediately noticed how nice and breezy (and quiet) it was up on the hill.

The club house, hot tub and two pools overlooking Playa Remanso promptly captured our attention. From our vantage point we could see the rolling hills and valleys that lead down to the ocean. 

Real Estate Opportunity: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– Congo Hills Club House & Pool

Seamus let us in on a little known secret. 

The owner of O’Shea’s (the most popular Irish pub in Granada) is opening a second pub and restaurant in this location. Renovations for the restaurant are already underway and to ensure smooth sailing into the pub some road work along the entrance of the development is also being done. 

We made our way over to the spec homes that are situated about 100 meters from the club house. Colourful fruit trees and beautiful bright flowering plants surround the casitas.

Real Estate Opportunity: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– Two bedroom casita with roof top deck

Real Estate Opportunity: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– Lemon tree on the property

Two of the homes have already been purchased by yet another Irishman. He currently uses them as vacation rentals to generate income. 

We checked out a two bedroom, two bathroom home. The design was very North American with an open kitchen, dining and living room; a great layout for entertaining. 

Real Estate Opportunity: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– Open concept kitchen

Real Estate Opportunity: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– Living Room

Real Estate Opportunity in San Juan del Sur

– Master bedroom is equipped with en-suite bath

Real Estate Opportunity: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– Both bedrooms were larger than those in our current rental home

Real Estate Opportunity: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– Good size adjoining bathrooms with with nice finishings

The 1200 square feet of living space is a little more than what we are used to, but a little extra space is always welcome.

As we made our way up the staircase and onto the roof top deck we could picture ourselves enjoying beautiful sunsets and a cold Tona (local beer) or two.

Real Estate Opportunity:  San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– Steps to the roof top patio

Real Estate Opportunity:  San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– A great place to enjoy beautiful sunsets and frosty Tona

Currently priced at just $99 000 USD the houses are move in ready just waiting for someone to make them a home. Conservatively speaking this price is 20% – 30% lower than similar real estate listings that we’ve seen in the area.

Congo Hills sits on a 90 acre parcel of land, so the options are endless. Anything from a one-third acre to ten acre lots are available. The land can be used for single family homes, condominiums, a B&B or even a small hotel. 

An area close to the club house – just across the road from the existing homes – stood out to us.

Seamus described these parcels as “non-view” lots, which we found highly entertaining considering we could see the ocean from where we were standing. 

He went on to explain that the lots on the ridge, closer to the ocean, have more sweeping and dramatic views so those are the ones he classifies as ocean view. At least he isn’t into over promising or exaggerating the truth.

We’ve given it some thought and decided that our preference would be to buy a lot and build an energy efficient, environmentally friendly and inexpensive earth-bag home.

What’s great about Congo Hills is that as long as your home has white outside walls and a red clay tile roof it fits the current home design restrictions of the development.

"Non-Ocean view" lot from Congo Hills

“Non-Ocean view” lot from Congo Hills

Next steps for us?

Do some more research on earth-bag construction while we wait for our investments to mature and become available.  

Or… 

…get financing through Seamus (something that is almost unheard of in Nicaragua) and start construction now.

At as little as $20 000 USD for a “non-view” one third acre serviced lot we are seriously considering pulling the trigger while Congo Hills is still in its infancy. 

As mentioned previously Congo Hills does not have a website, nor is it listed with a realtor. This is one of those special word of mouth cases we talked about in our last article.

We will be looking for a few neighbours so we wanted to share Seamus’ contact information with you. Please note: Uncool, unfriendly and not fun people need not apply. 

Seamus Fitzgerald
(505) 8895-5728 Nicaragua
congohillsnicaragua@gmail.com

Alternately you may use the form below to contact Seamus.

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